Kenneth Tynan, the British theater critic, once defined a critic as "a man who knows the way but can't drive the car."
Not so for Lev Grossman,Time's book critic and technology reporter, whose novel, The Magician's Land, the last in a fantasy trilogy for grownups, lands at No. 22 on USA TODAY's Best-Selling Books list.
After rave reviews – "Grossman captures the magic of fantasy books cherished in youth and repurposes it to decidedly adult ends," says Kirkus — it's Grossman's highest ranking on the list. The Magicians was No. 77 in 2009 and The Magician King reached No. 53 in 2011.
The cable network Syfy has greenlighted a one-hour pilot based on the series. The trilogy follows young New Yorkers who while studying magic discover the fantasy world they read about and loved as children is actually real and poses a danger to the world.
Grossman, who began writing the series a decade ago, told NPR he was inspired by the wait between books five and six of J.K. Rowling's Harry Potter series:
"It was a long wait, and I started thinking, both about how passionately I felt connected to this character (Harry), and yet also how different my life was from his. And I started thinking about how could I tell a story like that, but tell it in an adult way, with sort of all the adult realities people are dealing with when they're in their 20s and 30s."
No cast has been announced for the Syfy pilot, but Grossman has addressed the casting question:
"The challenge with the Magicians characters is to convey a lot of intelligence, and also to not be overly good-looking. They're a clever lot, and they're also very real – they look like real people. Ben Whishaw has probably aged out of the Quentin role, but people mention him to me a lot, and that seems right. Sometimes I pictured specific actors while I was writing – Eliot, for example, I imagine as something like Richard E. Grant in Withnail and I. I often imagine Alice as Thora Birch from Ghost World."